Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to the Drawing Board


When I was a kid, I loved to draw.  There was always something exciting about putting pencil to paper and wondering what would take shape.  Would a bunch of flowers grow into a country garden or a tropical jungle?  Would the background be a dramatic sunset or a tranquil blue?  Would the plants be the only signs of life, or would a parrot or dryad flit amid the flowers?  These questions and others led me to pick up my pencil again this past week.  This jungly (not gardeny), sunset-streaked (not blue sky-painted), wing-free (no dryads here) landscape was the result.  And for the most part, I'm happy with it, even if it is a little on the green side (in more ways than one).  I used to be more liberal with details and color, and this foray revealed me to be a little rusty.  I'm going to keep at it, though.

Drawing is so different from making jewelry.  For one thing, it's less physically demanding.  Also, it doesn't require consideration of practical questions such as, "Is this durable enough to not fall apart but light enough to hang around someone's neck?"  I can just go for it without being burdened by all those what-ifs.  Then again, drawing has its own challenges, as it's time-consuming and tedious.  Still, that's part of what makes it satisfying.

In honor of this landscape, I put together an Etsy treasury called The Scenic Route.  A treasury, for the uninitiated, is a collection of sixteen Etsy listings that have something in common.  Sometimes all the listings are from shops owned by people from the same state or Etsy team; other times, they're all the same color or are holiday-themed or are vintage or feature polka dots, Elvis, or aliens.  Etsy members create them, then spread the word to the featured sellers and everyone else in their network in hopes of amassing enough clicks to land on Etsy's coveted homepage.  But it's also a nice way to meet fellow sellers or just play curator.  Believe it or not, I didn't even know how to make a treasury until this past spring.  (Unfortunately, I haven't yet figured out how to upload one to the blog, as the wheels of progress turn slowly down here in the Trove.  If you want to take a peek, then hop over to my Etsy shop.)  Now I make treasuries all the time; so far I have sixteen.  It's fun to find the one thing that connects a bunch of otherwise random pieces -- probably because it's like putting an outfit together.

Even in a post about wall art, all roads somehow lead back to clothes.


Monday, September 8, 2014

The Leftovers






Top: Kohl's
Skirt: J. C. Penney's
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Marshalls
Jacket: Mossimo, Target
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Scarf: Wet Seal








Tee: American Rag, Macy's
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: DSW
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's






Dress: Modcloth
Boots: Alloy
Bag: Kohl's
Jacket: Tommy Hilfiger, Marshalls
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's





I'm not talking about that Justin Theroux series or last night's meatloaf.  I'm talking about the beads that you have left over after completing the projects for which you bought them (also about my leftover summer photographs, as flowers, smoothies, and purple bicycles should not go unshared).  You know how it goes.  Some plastic beads here, some glass beads there, with the odd extra pendant or cabochon thrown in.  More often than not, these odds and ends don't go together, and you're left wondering what to do with them.  Although this can be annoying, it's usually fun, kind of like making that questionable clearance rack caftan work with your wardrobe.  Lately, I've been trying to make necklaces that are more suited for everyday wear, and managing this mishmosh of supplies fits right in with that plan.

On a not-so-related note, I was recently flipping through some new magazines and was dismayed to find myself kind of disgruntled.  Not so much with the appearance stuff, which I take with a grain of salt (nothing like heeding the advice of Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)": "Do NOT read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly."), but with the pop psychology, how-to-be-a-better-person sort of stuff.  It's either stuff I already know, or stuff I don't want to know, like how to bake a gourmet turkey, how to do exercises at your desk, or how to strike up conversations with strangers.  I couldn't help but remember a college professor who had a negative view of women's magazines.  She said that they were all about convincing women that they needed to fix themselves, showing them how to be skinnier and prettier, better cooks, better lovers, better mothers.  Twenty-year-old me thought she was full of it.  Magazines were bursting with color and possibility, not to mention a welcome escape from my World Drama homework.  I think it took so long for me to realize their true duplicity because I never set out to do what they said, instead mesmerized by their splashy layouts like a child immersed in elaborate picture books.  Although still of that mind, I now find the content even less entertaining.  Stripped of such glitter, it all seems a little stress-inducing and judgy, the very antithesis of an indulgent diversion.

I think that's why I'd rather read novels, which are almost always enriching and peaceful.  I just finished a most restful example, A Week in Winter by the late great Maeve Binchy.  It tells the stories of guests at Stone House, an Irish hotel that serves up solace every bit as warm and restorative as its hearty soups (a ringing endorsement, as I don't even like soup).  Here's one of my favorite parts:

"Chestnut grove [not to be confused with the aforementioned Stone House; this book is teeming with inviting edifices] was a house that would have suited nobody except Eva: it was in poor repair, with a wild, rambling garden, very shaky plumbing, and unreliable electrical works.  She really couldn't afford the cost of maintaining it properly, and it might have seemed sensible to sell the place -- but when had Eva ever done the sensible thing? . . . There were clothes hanging in every room; on almost every wall there were hangers holding colorful, inexpensive dresses, often with a matching stole or hat.  Eva would pick them up at markets, car-boot sales, or closing-down sales.  She had never bought a normal dress in what might be called a normal shop.  Eva found the price of designer clothes so impossible to understand that she had refused to think about it anymore.  What were women doing, allowing themselves to be sucked into a world of labels and trends and the artificial demands of style?  Eva couldn't begin to fathom it.  She had only two rules of style -- easy care and brightly colored -- and was perfectly well dressed for every occasion." (355-356)

I found this passage to be so refreshing and carefree compared to the unyielding do's and don'ts espoused by the glossies.  Chestnut Grove sounds like the kind of house I'd love to live in, a magical mess of a place in delightful violation of most monthlys' rigid edicts.  The rest of the story is just as wonderful.  I hate hiking almost as much as I hate soup, but the book was so enchanting that I found myself wishing that I could stay at Stone House to walk its cliffs in an anorak and wellies.

And finally, as the last thread in this unraveling sweater of a post, the husband and I cannot imagine a world without Joan Rivers or a Friday night without "Fashion Police."  We followed her condition online until she passed last Thursday, somewhat bittersweetly during Fashion Week.  For years we tuned in weekly for Joan's colorful zingers, dissolving into laughter as she delivered one outrageous analogy after another.  Razor-sharp and unrelenting, Joan's wit was the star of the show, the celebrity fashions merely the window dressing.  Without it, our Friday night post-pizza snack will lose some of its flavor, and whatever we watch will be bland compared to its bite.  Rest in peace, Joan.  You always wore it well.                       

Monday, September 1, 2014

How Bazaar . . .








Dress: Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Delia's
Scarf: Boscov's
Sunglasses: Kohl's







Dress: Modcloth
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Etsy, Eleven Peacocks
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's







Dress: American Rag, Macy's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Delia's
Scarf: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk







Top: Material Girl, Macy's
Skirt: Marshalls
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: XOXO, gifted
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Kohl's







Top: L'Amour, J. C. Penney's
Skirt: L'Amour, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Kohl's
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's






Top: J. C. Penney's
Camisole: Casual Corner Outlet
Skirt: Target
Shoes: Alloy
Bag: Kohl's
Brown belt: New York & Company
Silver belt: Boscov's
Yellow scarf: Marshalls
Blue scarf: Boscov's
Sunglasses: Kohl's

. . . that it's Labor Day!  I'm sure that I'm not the only one wondering how summer could be over.  I went to the beach two times this weekend instead of one (I tried for three, but the sun sapped my skin, if not my spirit) and to Rita's three times instead of two (apparently, the lure of the treats is stronger than the lure of the tides), trying to cram it all in.  Why, I don't know, as it's bound to be nice until October.  I guess it's because sunshine or not, once you flip the calendar to September, something in the air is different.  Indeed, shades of autumn seem to have crept into this week's ensembles, their earthiness whispering of bonfires, fall festivals, and other homespun gatherings.  That's where I was going with the whole bazaar thing, by the way.  As I've said before, I like the idea of them, and of flea markets.  To me, descriptions of dust and disorder (think closed-off parlors, trap-door attics, and never-cleaned closets) are always the most interesting, maybe because it's in just those sort of settings that characters in novels discover long-lost heirlooms and bombshell letters.  Also because of those fashion magazine spreads in which elaborately and eccentrically dressed models lounge around in abandoned barns and crumbling mansions.  (Incidentally, I have a bone to pick with magazines, but I'll save that for another post.)  It's the contrasts that I find intriguing, glamour and squalor smashed up side by side.  Even if, in my experience, most bazaars are long on seediness and short on sparkle.  But I hold out hope for finding a rhinestone in the rough, er, rummage sale, yet.

In closing, thanks for the comments on last week's post about photography.  I appreciate the tips, as well as the confirmation that I'm not alone.  Deep down I think I always knew that the only antidote to snapshot snafus is a little (or perhaps a lot of) elbow grease.  I have a few tricks that I want to try out, baby step-style, over the next few months.  So be on the lookout for some sort of (subtle) transformation.  Or maybe just for a mannequin who isn't headless.